Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16–17
Why is the Bible Important?
As believers, the Holy Scriptures contained in the Bible are vital to our faith. God’s Word is our compass. It is what reveals to us the heart of God and the heart of man. As we read it and learn more about God’s character and our character, discernment is instilled into us. We then are able to measure out what is of the Father and what is not; what is the draw of the Holy Spirit and what is the temptation of sin; what is the voice of Christ and what is the voice of Satan; what is truth and what is deception; what gives life and what leads to death.
Proceed With Caution
Over the years, if you haven’t noticed, there have been contradicting claims around the world about what is biblical and what is not. It is what has caused the separation between denominations.
Scripture, undoubtedly, is very powerful. Even the enemy knows this, which is why when he came to Jesus in the wilderness, He used scripture to try and tempt Jesus in hopes he could thwart the beautiful master plan of Yahweh, the one true God. We see in the scriptures when Satan comes to Jesus (Matthew 4, Luke 4, and Mark 1), he twists scripture, distorting its meaning in order to deceive.
Unfortunately, those who are against God can twist scripture to try and trap others into false beliefs. Even more unfortunately, some believers, preachers, and scholars have unintentionally done the same.
To avoid this, it is important when studying scripture to remember:
1. Let scripture interpret scripture.
Sometimes, when reading certain sections of The Bible, it can appear at first glance as if the scriptures are saying one thing. However, if you read other scriptures around the same topic it would almost appear contradictory, but in reality they work together and you have to look at them together.
For example: In Exodus 20 is the commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy, and in the New Testament (Matthew 12, Mark 2, and Luke 6) we see Jesus accused by the Pharisee’s of breaking the Sabbath law. It’s important that neither of these scriptures are read alone, and neither of them are read at face value. We study scripture to know more than face value. Studying verses just reading for this particular subject will allow us to understand what it is God wants us to know about the Sabbath.
2. Don’t read your desires into scripture.
When I was new to the faith and had never been taught how to study the scriptures, I misinterpreted scripture all the time because I let my desires guide the scriptures instead of the other way around. This becomes dangerous because if you believe scriptures are telling you one thing and then it doesn’t happen, you can wrongfully place blame on God for expectations you set according to your will and not His.
One of the most popular scriptures that people misinterpret by reading subjectively, instead of objectively by God’s true intent, is Philippians 4:13.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
This verse is especially popular in the sports world. I can win this game or meet this goal, for example. People often use it in the context of thinking they can have anything they want as long as they have Christ (prosperity gospel), attempting to use God almost as a good luck charm or a genie.
However, when you look at the whole scriptures around this verse, and the context of this phrase, you will see there is a much larger picture. This was written by Paul, in one of his letters to the Philippians, while he was imprisoned. This wasn’t a phrase of “I’m going to get anything I want”, but rather it was about him being able to endure a horrible situation because of Christ’s love, knowing Jesus is Lord of all and He is in control of all things for the good of all who belong to Him.
3. Consider history and culture to fully understand context. (Timeliness and Timelessness)
As westerners, when we hear the word law, we all think about state and federal law. This is because our culture operates and thinks in a “guilt-innocence” mindset (3D Gospel by Jayson Georges), meaning we view and think of society as a courtroom.
Ancient Hebrew and even modern Hebrew culture does not think this way. According to the 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges, Israel probably would have operated in a more “honor-shame” mindset. This ties into the eastern world being more familial and collectivistic than us westerners. In the west, we are individualistic and aim to think for ourselves most of the time. We are about independence and individuality, where they are/were? more about loyalty and working together.
This is just one example of the differences in our cultures. When reading the scriptures we have to consider the “timeliness” and the “timelessness” of it.
Timeliness considers the original audience and original intent of the passage.
Timelessness considers the heart of the message and how that applies to us today.
For example, when looking at the laws written in Leviticus we tend to look at those laws as one lump-sum of laws. Ancient Hebrews would have seen it differently. Among the laws written in the Old Testament, there were primarily 3 different laws: Moral laws, Civil Laws, Ceremonial Laws.
Civil/Judicial Laws pertained to the citizens of that time to maintain order. Ceremonial laws pertained to the citizens of that time for cleansing and to prepare themselves for worship (fulfilled by Christ in the NT). The Moral Law displays God’s will and his design for life here on earth.
One scripture that is highly debated in the Chrisitian community is Leviticus 19:28 regarding tattoos: ”You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” When you read this at face value, you may think “Okay, so God says tattoos are bad.” However, we must ask here, “which law does this fall under for the Hebrews?” A clue to this question can be found in the surrounding scriptures.
Consider Leviticus 19: 26-27: “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard.”
Taking this at face value, you may think “Every steak I eat must be cooked well-done and God only likes certain haircuts”. I would hope at this point you would be able to consider that there’s something here we’re missing.
The large truth of the matter is that God does not want anyone worshiping anyone else or falling into any other religion. He doesn’t want a mix of religions, but to be recognized as the one and only true God. With a little research, you will see that what these particular laws are pertaining to are the other pagan religions of the time that commonly had certain haircuts, used tattoos which identified and presented what religion they belonged to, and the sacrifices that they used and consumed in their cult practices.
A GUIDE TO STUDYING SCRIPTURE
(OIA, a resource adapted from Campus Outreach)
Observation: Point blank what does the scripture say?
Write down the verse that sticks out to you.
Pose questions from the text about certain words, phrases, Hebrew understanding, etc.
Interpretation: What does the scripture mean?
Use scripture references, commentary, Hebrew/Greek word studies, historic studies to understand the meaning of the text.
Application: How does this scripture apply to my life?
A- Avoid Sin: What sin is revealed within this passage?
C- Claim Promise: What are the promises of God found in this passage?
T- Teacher to Follow: Who is someone within your life who serves as a role model for the godliness you see in this passage?
I- Initiate Personal Challenge: Create a plan and challenge for yourself that you’ve been inspired to do from this passage that will help make you look more like Christ
O- Observations about God, Self, Others: What have you learned about the heart and character of each?
N- N-E-Thing Else: Any other notes you have from this passage that you want to record.
Bible Project: How to Read the Bible
Phoenix Roasters Foundation
Here at Phoenix Roasters, we love the Word of God and we love people! We want to be a resource for you! Our community of pastors and believers are here to pray for you and attempt to answer questions you may have.
If you have questions on how to read the Bible or questions about a particular passage or topic, feel free to reach out to us here.